Sunday, March 30, 2008

THE TALE OF TWO SHOTS

If you were still conducting a debate about who should be the Naismith Award Winner for national college player of the year, you can stop now. Kansas State’s Michael Beasley is a phenomenal young player who had a great season, but he’s not Tyler Hansbrough.

Last night, Hansbrough continued to punctuate another statistically impressive season with tournament heroics.

First, with the Tar Heels clinging to a 68-64 lead, Lawson came around the baseline and knocked down a 3 from the corner in front of his bench that pushed the margin to seven. Then, after a basket from Louisville's Earl Clark inside, Hansbrough knocked down a straightaway jumper over the 6-foot-11 Padgett to make it 73-66 with 2:27 to play.

As we like to say here at TAH: GAME OVER.

Hansbrough essentially closed the door on Louisville on the next possession. The 6-9 junior got the ball on the left wing with the shot clock winding down, then pump-faked to get Clark up in the air and step in for another jumper over Padgett. The ball swished cleanly through while Hansbrough was knocked to the ground, pushing the lead to 75-66 with 1:33 left.

Lost in the shuffle of those two great shots, were three other Hansbrough jumpers made over the Cardinals’ second half zone. We’ve talked about this before in JUMP SHOOTING TYLER HANSBROUGH’S (http://www.todaysaccheadlines.com/2008/03/jump-shooting-tyler-hansbrough.html). How many player of the year candidates teach themselves an entirely new shot for their third All-American season? Hansbrough has mastered the mid-range jumper, and now it’s as much of a weapon (if not more) than his inside game.

Last night Jay Bilas kept saying that Psycho-T would not have taken those jump shots with “such confidence” last season. We think it safe to say he would not have taken them at all, but now teams have to defend the Poplar Bluff Whirlwind everywhere inside the three point line.

"I've been playing with him my whole college career," said junior Danny Green, who had 11 points despite needing four stitches to close a cut above his left eye late in the first half. "A lot of shots that he takes and makes, it still shocks me to this day. I'm like, 'How did he get that off and how did he make it?' He's been doing it his whole career."

The baskets left Louisville's players in similar disbelief.

"You see the guy as a junior and he's getting his jersey retired and you're like, 'Why?" said Terrence Williams, who had 14 points for Louisville. "Then you play against him and you say, 'That's why.' He'll go through the floor just to get a rebound. He's a great player."

CBS broadcaster Jay Bilas interviews Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels after the Tar Heels defeated the Louisville Cardinals. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels shoots over Kyle Singler #12 of the Duke Blue Devils during the first half at Cameron Indoor Stadium March 8, 2008 in Durham, North Carolina. (Photos top and bottom by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

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